The entertaining title is the best part of this disaster.

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I'M A GAY WIZARD

A (presumably Latinx) gay teen is forcibly taken to a school for teen wizards.

Juan “Johnny” Diaz and his best friend, a transgender girl named Alison, think they’re just playing around when they cast a magic spell, but they are abducted to a secretive institute for teens exhibiting magical potential. At this facility, however, they are told that using magic is forbidden both on and off campus, so it’s unclear how they are expected to be trained, and it seems its true purpose is to suppress magical powers, or maybe to conduct nefarious research, or perhaps to do some other dastardly thing to the teens—who alternately want to get the hell out and want to stay put, especially Johnny, who finds an instant friend-turned-boyfriend in Hunter (who rapidly goes from thinking he’s straight to understanding he’s gay—and then equally rapidly from wanting to keep that information to himself to wanting to shout it from the rooftops). Johnny and friends venture into the Everywhen, a place all humans enter when they sleep, and encounter monsters. The pacing can best be described as hurry-up-and-wait, and the characters’ motivations and needs change by the page. Magical beings seem to be drawn from myriad mythological and literary sources, which would be interesting if they weren’t so briefly visited and quickly dropped in favor of the next plot twist.

The entertaining title is the best part of this disaster. (map) (Fantasy. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 29, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-9936899-0-1

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Wattpad Books

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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This story is necessary. This story is important.

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THE HATE U GIVE

Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter is a black girl and an expert at navigating the two worlds she exists in: one at Garden Heights, her black neighborhood, and the other at Williamson Prep, her suburban, mostly white high school.

Walking the line between the two becomes immensely harder when Starr is present at the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a white police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Khalil’s death becomes national news, where he’s called a thug and possible drug dealer and gangbanger. His death becomes justified in the eyes of many, including one of Starr’s best friends at school. The police’s lackadaisical attitude sparks anger and then protests in the community, turning it into a war zone. Questions remain about what happened in the moments leading to Khalil’s death, and the only witness is Starr, who must now decide what to say or do, if anything. Thomas cuts to the heart of the matter for Starr and for so many like her, laying bare the systemic racism that undergirds her world, and she does so honestly and inescapably, balancing heartbreak and humor. With smooth but powerful prose delivered in Starr’s natural, emphatic voice, finely nuanced characters, and intricate and realistic relationship dynamics, this novel will have readers rooting for Starr and opening their hearts to her friends and family.

This story is necessary. This story is important. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: Feb. 28, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-06-249853-3

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2016

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A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.

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SCYTHE

From the Arc of a Scythe series , Vol. 1

Two teens train to be society-sanctioned killers in an otherwise immortal world.

On post-mortal Earth, humans live long (if not particularly passionate) lives without fear of disease, aging, or accidents. Operating independently of the governing AI (called the Thunderhead since it evolved from the cloud), scythes rely on 10 commandments, quotas, and their own moral codes to glean the population. After challenging Hon. Scythe Faraday, 16-year-olds Rowan Damisch and Citra Terranova reluctantly become his apprentices. Subjected to killcraft training, exposed to numerous executions, and discouraged from becoming allies or lovers, the two find themselves engaged in a fatal competition but equally determined to fight corruption and cruelty. The vivid and often violent action unfolds slowly, anchored in complex worldbuilding and propelled by political machinations and existential musings. Scythes’ journal entries accompany Rowan’s and Citra’s dual and dueling narratives, revealing both personal struggles and societal problems. The futuristic post–2042 MidMerican world is both dystopia and utopia, free of fear, unexpected death, and blatant racism—multiracial main characters discuss their diverse ethnic percentages rather than purity—but also lacking creativity, emotion, and purpose. Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions.

A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning. (Science fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: Nov. 29, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4424-7242-6

Page Count: 448

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: July 26, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2016

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